This essay will focus on two specific incidents that occurred during my school placement. I will furthermore reflect on the implications that incidents have had on my pedagogical practice. Moreover, I will refer to Tripps analysis methods in order to gain a deeper understanding of the situations.
Tripp (1993) refers to critical incident analysis, as an important and valuable approach for own reflection within the context of teaching. Moreover, critics such as Calderhead (1989) believes critical incident analysis to be an opportunity for self-improvement. Lister and Crisp (2007) state that, critical incident analysis was established as a means to aid critical reflection in practice (p.207). In addition, it allows students to reflect upon and, look at issues that arise from their pedagogy (Nygren and Blom, 2001). Furthermore, critical incident analysis aims to look deeper into the latent problem that has caused the situation and allows the teacher in question to reflect on the issue accordingly and think of future implications. As McAteer et al (2010,) states, a critical incident is one that challenges your own assumptions or makes you think differently. (p.107).
Description of incidents
Week six of my first placement of initial teacher training, during one of my English lessons, which lasted about 20 minutes, all the pupils in the class were engaged in their given tasks. Child A, who is usually focused but can sometimes can be disruptive and needs constant reminders of the classrooms rules. She gets back to doing her work after being reminded. Nevertheless, as child A came into class being under the weather and crying this morning, she did not want to do any work and was not listening to instructions given to her. After explaining to child A that she had to get on with her work as she was in school like other pupils, I signalled the pupils to transition from the carpet to their numeracy tables because it was time for their mathematics lesson.
Child A was one of my focus pupils and during the lesson, surprisingly; she hardly paid any attention to me as I was explaining their task. I decided to seat her on an empty chair next to me but this made her feel more unease and decided to cry. As I was trying to calm her down and give her the assurance that everything is going to be fine and it was okay she forgot that it was non-school uniform day, she got angry and threw her workbook across the table onto the floor. Following the schools appropriate discipline processes, I told her to go sit on the carpet by herself, as she was being disruptive to her fellow peers who were trying to complete their work on the table. Five minutes before the end of the lesson, child A came back to the table, she sat down and began doing her work. As she missed a lot during the lesson, I therefore kept her back and gave her additional work to complete before sending her out. (Student X, UEL reflective journal, 2018)
Approaching the end of the mathematics lesson, the class teacher saw that some pupils were yet to complete their work and therefore asked them to do so as it was unacceptable. The teacher asked me to supervise them and collect their work once they finish.
Child C is normally easily distracted and does not begin his work without making a fuss. However, as I saw Child C was far off from doing his work, I decided to go and sit next to him to check whether he required any assistance beginning the work. Exceptionally irritated and upset, he kept on rehashing ‘you are being unfair to me, I will tell my father that you and miss are being unfair to me. Very stunned with child C’s upheaval, I asked, ‘for what reason are we being unfair to you and for what reason are you going to tell your father’ he replied with ‘you are not releasing me out to play; you and miss are simply unfair.
He began to cry therefore, I had to tell him that it was not yet play time and that the rest of the class are out for an important meeting, he was resolute that it was play time and it was unfair that he was asked to remain behind. Still in denial to get on with his work, I said to him it was unfair to me that he does not want to do his work and perhaps, I should tell his father that he does not do his work in class or follow any given instructions. At that point, he yelled you are not even being of any help to me, no one even thinks of helping me, how am I expected to do my work in the event that you do not encourage me. Shocked, but I stayed calm and clarified to him that I was there to assist him yet he was not cooperating with me. All sorrowful, child C took his pencil and began his work as I gave him verbal feedback on what to do ad supported him using resources. (Student X, UEL reflective journal, 2018)
The Thinking Strategies
According to Schon (1983), Kolb (1984), Hatton & Smith (1995) and Kennedy (1999), there are many other perspectives that can be used as a means of supporting the analysis and reflection process on teaching circumstances as opposed to just Tripps model. However, using Tripps (1993) model is most suitable as it classifies incidents into different categories (Ahluwalia, 2009).
To understand the above-mentioned incidents with a wider perspective, I will be using the thinking strategies, proposed by Tripp (2012). Tripp (2012) suggests that using thinking strategies help frames the kind of question that will begin to produce a deeper reading. (p.44)
a) Plus, minus and interesting.
This links to elucidating what will in general be good (plus) or on the other hand bad (minus) about the incident; also, those thoughts, which do not fit in either classification yet fall in between (interesting). These categorizations let us assess an incident and see if there is any relation (Tripp, 2012, page 45). In the course of the first incident, it was evident that, child As emotions had an effect on her getting on with her work. She was rather unwilling to abide by the class rules or given instructions and her behaviour was a disruption to others on the table. She was however willing to do her work after being sent to sit on the carpet to reflect on what needs to change in terms of her behaviour. In incident two, child C was inefficient and emotional throughout the session. He was still refusing to do any work. The interesting thing to see in both incidents was how emotions had an impact on both the childrens work.
Being able to use Tripps thinking strategies, I can assess future lessons by grouping situations in like dislike and interesting’ This will enable me to build up on my professional judgment. The above reflection may give answers for the dislike and may furnish a reasonable connection with the interesting point of view.
Alternatives, possibilities and choices (non-events)
Here Tripp looks at other possibilities or ways (in this case, alternatives) to identify what might have happened rather than what did happen. (Tripp, 2012, p.45). Being able to identify what has not happened through carefully analysing the situation, allows us to think of other alternatives and possibilities that may have affected the situation. A possibility to what could have happened to child A might have been that some of the children may have been making fun her of her and telling her that she may get in trouble as she forgot about it being a non-school uniform day therefore causing her to feel emotional. Similarly, in relation to incident two, there is a possibility that the children may have been mocking child C (knowing quite well of his behaviour issue) in the absence of the teacher and telling him that they are going out for playtime as a joke hence triggering his upheaval.
Other points of view
According to Tripp (2012), an importance lies in seeking out other points of views from participants and other informed non-participants. (p.45), Tripp states that this is a two-stage process where we have to analyse a point of view from participants then check it out with them. (p.45)
In relation to both of my incidents, the mutual informed participant was the class teacher. However, the other informed participant in incident one was child As parents. I expected child As parents to remember that it was non-school uniform day as there were a number of reminders sent out and it was also uploaded on the schools website. I found out that the child had not given the letter to her parents and has a habit of doing so. Nevertheless, I had expectations that the teacher would intercede during the incident to try to resolve the matter as this was having a negative effect on the child and on those on the table too. Moreover, the class teacher explained to me that she would have handled the situations as I did given that children tend to get emotional very easily during misunderstandings. The teacher furthermore said that there are disciplinary consequences given to children who refuse to abide by the school rules (in this case, this was seen in my incident 1 where child A threw her book across the table and on to the floor).
I expected the children to be distracted from all the hoo-ha that was happening within the classroom, but to my surprise, they were calm. After the lesson, it appeared that the children were very curious about the situations therefore, they kept asking, what happened? Why are they crying? Is child A going to get in trouble?